Fees commission must not forget postgrad studies - NRF

2016-09-05 17:32
Dr Molapo Qhobela (NRF)

Dr Molapo Qhobela (NRF)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – The fees commission must not overlook postgraduate students and researchers when probing the feasibility of fee-free tertiary education, the National Research Foundation (NRF) said on Monday.

Its CEO Dr Molapo Qhobela told the commission in Cape Town that any policy, planning or funding decisions in the sector must enhance research excellence and produce new knowledge.

“If we are only looking at one part of the system, then we will find ourselves in a bit of a pickle,” he said.

“If you want a knowledge economy, and to move from merely digging minerals and sending them off to add value, we do need to invest in knowledge.”

He said the National Development Plan (NDP) had challenging and ambitious targets.

The NDP envisaged more than 5 000 doctoral graduates per year by 2030 (it is currently around 2 000 per year).

It also envisaged that over a quarter of university enrolments should be postgraduate (currently 16%). 

The Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training was established following the Fees Must Fall protests, which demanded that there be a 0% fee increase.

The first set of hearings was for the commission to receive an overview of the relevant issues from various organisations.

As an independent government body, the NRF funded 10% of all postgraduate students in the country.

It also provided grants for university researchers and large infrastructure equipment.

Funding under pressure

“The most important criteria is excellence. We support people who really want to push the boundaries of knowledge,” said Qhobela.

He said their funding was under pressure.

They had to factor in inflation, foreign currency concerns for research equipment and a set allocation by government.

“The need is big. We fund 10% because that is what we can fund. It is not by design.”

Most of the questions by the commission and evidence leaders focused on transformation.

Qhobela admitted that their funding predominantly went to those institutions that were historically supported to pursue research.

This did not mean that previously disadvantaged universities did not receive funding.

“If historically you were not expected to pursue a research mandate, you are on a building curve,” he said.

He was also asked whether the NSF had a funding mechanism for poor students.

Qhobela replied that they did not presently have one in a systemic way.

But they were not oblivious of financial need.

“Of our 10 000 students, about 1 000 come through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.”

He recommended that funding decisions for postgraduates, as with undergraduates, should consider different socio-economic circumstances but still be sustainable for universities.

Read more on:    nrf  |  cape town  |  education  |  student fees

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.